Wild greens: How to forage in your own back yard for edibles

There's a bounty of local food growing right under our noses. Discover what forgotten foods the Canadian wild continues to offer.

By Nancy Johnston

How to forage for your own food

Canada's countryside offers an abundance of wild edibles just waiting to be scooped up by anyone who knows where -- and when -- to look.

Why not take advantage of nature's bounty by harvesting some of the exotic delicacies in your area? With more than 350 different species of wild edibles across the country, it shouldn’t be hard to find something that meets your tastes.

Queasy pickings
Planning to bring home some wild edibles the next time you return from the forest or field? Great idea. If it's your first time foraging, however, do not rely on our collection alone for identifying plants that are safe to eat. This slideshow is meant only as a brief overview of what’s out there, not a comprehensive guide.

Wild edibles cooking tip
When looking for wild plants to bring home to the kitchen, always follow this important rule of thumb: never pick (let alone eat) anything if you're not 100 per cent sure what it is. Simply, if you eat the wrong plant you could become seriously ill, or even die.

To be certain of what you've chosen, consult authoritative guides such as this great online resource provided by the Nova Scotia Museum (museum.gov.ns.ca/poison)
- Patrick Walsh, Editor, Outdoor Canada Magazine

Blueberry (Vaccinium species):
Small, round and bluish-purple

Find it:
Low-lying bushes throughout Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Ontario
When: Mid-to late July is peak season

Eating tips:
Rinse and eat raw, add to salads, make salsa, use for jam or bake in pies
Goes well with: Grilled or smoked salmon; venison
Watercress (Nasturtium officinale):
Sparse-looking floating or creeping plant with small white flowers

Find it:
Streams, rivers, ponds and marshy areas throughout Canada
When: Early spring through to late fall

Eating tips:
Rinse leaves well if eating raw, or boil and eat as greens
Goes well with: Salad greens or wild leek and morel soup


See the rest of our collection of edible wild plants, fruits and nuts.

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